Changes to DACA Leave Pathway to Citizenship Up in the Air for Hundreds of Thousands of Dreamers
Introduced in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – also known as DACA – was designed as a temporary administrative relief from deportation for the growing population of undocumented immigrant minors. Sometimes called “Dreamers,” these young people had little to no say in their immigration status. Since its inception, almost 800,000 undocumented youths have been helped by the DACA program.
However, last week, a federal judge in Texas upended the plan when he ordered the U.S. government to close DACA to all new applicants. Judge Andrew Hanen's decision states the Obama administration did not have the legal authority to grant deportation relief and work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. This ruling is a significant blow to the roughly 650,000 people who currently hold DACA status, along with anyone in the process of filing for the protection.
DACA has had its fair share of challenges over the past few years. Since President Trump’s first attempts to end the program in 2017, DACA recipients and those eligible for DACA have been living from court decision to court decision. Everyone involved in the process, from Dreamers to practitioners who support their dreams, have endured a see-saw of judgements. That level of anxiety and stress on a population that has been shown to thrive and support the economy when given work authorizations, is debilitating.
The latest political move leaves program participants at the mercy of a very conservative Supreme Court, while hoping Congress will act in their best interests. For many, last week’s ruling is a call for action that something more permanent needs to be done to help DACA recipients.
The U.S. is the only home most Dreamers have known. They often know little to nothing about their countries of origin, don’t speak the native language and have no family or support systems in these countries. For nearly a decade, Dreamers have been victimized by the courts and politicians as they withstand debates about whether they will be allowed to stay in the only country many of them have ever known.
President Joe Biden and the Department of Homeland Security plan to continue processing DACA renewal applications. The administration also intends to issue a proposed ruling on DACA with a goal of preserving and fortifying the program with additional policy changes. The next few months will provide clarity on where the future of the DACA program is heading.
Jessica M. Cadavid is an Immigration Attorney with Cadavid & Associates.. She is dedicated to helping individuals, families and employees navigate the immigration process. If you need help with an immigration issue, call (602) 515-8859 to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney today.